“There is an increasing likelihood of life-threatening storm surge,” the National Hurricane Center said.
NEW YORK (NBC NEWS) – The latest forecast on Hurricane Dorian shows that the powerful storm will strengthen over the coming days and has the potential to become a Category 4 as it barrels toward the southeastern United States.
The National Hurricane Center forecast Thursday that Hurricane Dorian could reach maximum winds of 130 mph within 72 hours, putting it at a Category 4, second highest on the hurricane wind-speed scale; anything 3 or above is considered a major hurricane.
Dorian would be the first Category 4 or higher hurricane to make landfall on Florida’s east coast since 1992, when Hurricane Andrew was blamed for 44 deaths in the state.
Dorian was east of the Bahamas and was expected to move over the Atlantic east of the islands on Thursday and Friday, according to the hurricane center. It was then expected to move near or over parts of the northwest Bahamas on Sunday.
“The risk of life-threatening storm surge and hurricane-force winds this weekend continues to increase in the northwestern Bahamas, and hurricane watches could be issued there tonight or Friday,” the hurricane center said. “Residents should have their hurricane plan in place and listen to advice given by local emergency officials.”
It was too soon to tell exactly where the storm would make landfall, but the hurricane center added: “There is an increasing likelihood of life-threatening storm surge along portions of the Florida east coast late this weekend or early next week.”
The center said that regardless of the exact track of the storm, heavy rains were expected in parts of the Bahamas and Florida, as well as elsewhere in the southeastern United States, over the weekend and into the middle of next week.